Hayley King Isn't Afraid to Get Back on the Horse After Traumatic Brain Injury

In July of 2014, Sara got the phone call no parent wants to get. Her daughter, 15-year-old Hayley, had been thrown from a mustang and kicked in the head while riding at her friend's grandfather's house in White Hall, Arkansas. The force from the horse's kick shattered her daughter's skull and parts of her skull were embedded into her brain. Hayley was immediately rushed to Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas to get her vitals stable. Sara drove from their home in nearby Redfield to meet her daughter before surgery, insisting she be taken to Arkansas Children's Hospital.

"If I had been close, I would have told the ambulance to take Hayley straight to ACH," Sara said. "I was in ACH when I was a kid, and the hospital hasn't done anything but improve over the years. I couldn't imagine her being anywhere better."

Hayley was medi-flighted to ACH, where Dr. Gregory Albert performed surgery as soon as they arrived. After surgery, Hayley began the process of recovery. It was about a week before she could talk again and about three weeks before she could walk, with a gait belt.

"Those first few weeks were really hard. She couldn't even hold her head up on her own," Sara said. "It's been hard to handle for all of us, but Hayley has handled it so well; she's handled it so much better than me. I am so impressed by her determined attitude," Sara said. "When she was discharged and saw the wheelchair she was expected to ride in, she said, 'I'm not riding in that. I'm walking out of here!'"

Hayley spent about a month in ACH and had about eight months of physical therapy. Hayley and her family now come back twice a year for check-ups.

"We took one day at a time," Sara said. "We didn't expect she would heal as fast as she did. Hayley recovered remarkably fast, but every day is different. Even as great as she's doing now, she still has some issues, but we're taking them one day at a time."

Hayley, who turns 17 this month, didn't let this accident keep her down and is already back to riding horses again. "Hayley is a country girl through and through," Sara said. "She loves riding horses, hunting and fishing. She's the same friendly, outgoing girl who is as pretty on the inside as she is on the outside."